I've written about how important it is for me to find organic inspiration in a world where are constantly bombarded by other people's ideas and images. One of the ways that I have recently learned to find some inspiration is to go to my library and do research before I begin a project. I feel like this fact finding/inspiration time is vital to taking my work to the next level.
When I first began my arts and crafts career, I was so excited about starting projects. Often, I would think of an idea and then simply rush into the project, eager to begin and even more eager to see it in it's completion. But lately, I've tried to slow down. When I get an idea or an assignment from a client, I try not to jump immediately jump into the project. I take some time to think about it. Then I head off to the library. I bring my Learning Journal with me and I often bring the books,The Artist's Library and Bibliocraft with me as they both offer tips on utilizing library collections as creative inspiration.
Once I get to the library, I grab a table. I open up my Learning Journal and get a page started for the topic I want to investigate. Then it's into the stacks to start finding books about my topic. I drag a huge pile of books over to my table and start reading, note taking, and sketching. It's a relaxing process and it fills me up both creatively and intellectually. Once I'm done studying, I pack-up, head home, and am ready to begin my project. I really do believe I am seeing incremental improvements in my art as a result of this ritual.
Now you are probably wondering why I don't do this research at home, on the computer? Mainly, it's because I LOVE the library. It has been a warm and cozy and happy place for me ever since I was young. So the place itself serves as inspiration to me. But the learning process also feels different to me when I am reading a book. Maybe it's the tactical element of actually holding a book. Or maybe it's the lack of other distractions. The library is pretty quiet. When I am at home, there's other things to attend to and even the computer screen has a lot going on in addition to the paragraph I'm reading. Or maybe it's simply that I am from an age when "studying" meant going to the library, pulling books, and working away in a quite corner.
If you are interested in exploring the creative inspiration of libraries and research, I recommend the following:
- The Artist's Library: A Field Guide (Books in Action)
- BiblioCraft: The Modern Crafters Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects
- Design by the Book video series. It's a set of wonderful videos produced by Design Sponge and the New York Public Library.